LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Little Rock city official confirms the Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a race-based investigation into a Little Rock Police Department employee.
Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter says the DOJ case stems from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation filed in 2016, which lists Little Rock Police Captain Tanya Washington.
In 2016, then Officer Ralph Breshears applied for a Hit & Run Investigator position at Little Rock Police.
According to a determination letter by the EEOC, five candidates were interviewed for the position. The letter reveals Captain Washington and a Lieutenant selected an African American officer for the job despite lesser qualifications and experience than Breshears, who’s white.
Mark Hayes, who cannot comment directly on the investigation, works for the Arkansas Municipal League.
“I do represent the City of Little Rock, they are in our legal defense program,” says Hayes.
Hayes says most cases end at the EEOC level.
“DOJ investigations can come from a variety of sources. They can come directly from a person making a complaint to the DOJ, the DOJ can pick up the baton from the EEOC,” says Hayes.
The federal document shows quote:
“Captain Washington, more likely than not in 2016 made a derogatory racial comment in relation to hiring when she commented to the effect of “I’m tired of these lily white squads.””
Little Rock Police confirm Wednesday an Internal Affairs investigation was opened stemming from Captain Washington’s alleged comment in July of 2016 but was eventually closed and cannot be released because there was no termination, demotion or suspension.
About one year after the Internal Affairs investigation was launched, Breshears shot an alleged carjacker. Breshears, who retired from the department at the end of 2017, was charged with misdemeanor battery earlier this week.
While Little Rock Police is in charge of investigating officer-involved shootings, it’s left up to the Prosecutor’s Office to file charges.
The federal document shows Captain Washington told investigators she promoted the officer because of his presentation, verbal skills and his sick leave was minimal.
Little Rock Police officials are not commenting on the case because of the open DOJ investigation, which Carpenter says started late last year.